A Great Alternative: Impact Wrestling 3-20-2015

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I just started watching Impact regularly, and so far I’ve been presently surprised. Let’s see if they can keep it going.

IMPACT WRESTLING 3-20-2015  DESTINATION AMERICA

So we are coming off last week’s episode which was the strongest of the Destination America era. I’d love it if the WWE or even ROH would take a page from the EC3 / Rockstar Spud feud. Just such solid compelling stuff. The shoes are big to fill this week so let’s get going!

Textbook pro wrestling. Seriously.
Textbook pro wrestling. Seriously.

It’s the match we’ve all been waiting for! Tonight it’s Angle vs. Lashley (please stop autocorrecting to Ashley) for the TNA heavyweight title. I’m not so sure we’ve all been waiting for it, it’s more of a match I’ve never thought about before, but TNA seems to think it’s a dream match so we’ll go with that. We’re coming to you from the “world famous” Wembley Arena in London, and I can’t help but think that the TNA execs thought this is where Davey beat Bret.

Ultimate X is going to start us off. I’m on board for that!!

Match # 1 The Wolves Vs. The Bro Mans V2.0 Vs. Manik & The Great Senada

I love how they’ve kind of mixed up the teams from the constant stream of James Storm/Abyss matches we’ve been getting. We get a promo where Robbie is completely broken up about losing to Brooke last week, hence Zema Ion is teaming with Jessie Godderz tonight. We get some nice shots of the ring and I legitimately start to worry about the health of the competitors as there are not nearly enough mats at ringside. Wouldn’t a world famous arena have more mats? Did they get torn up by the Legion of Doom’s motorcycles?

This match is so much better than if James Storm, Abyss and Robbie E were in it. The Wolves set the pace with an awesome toss of Zema up and over Angelina Love on the apron. The height was so impressive I almost forgot he was falling on concrete. Everybody cuts a quick pace and I really like the story of the two other teams teaming up to get the champs out of the ring. With Richards and Edwards on the outside, the New Bro Mans kill Manik with a spinebuster into a back cracker. They then try to jump to get the titles in a cute spot. (Jessie almost gets them!) A word on Jessie Godderz: This is a guy I fully expected to suck. He’s a muscle head. he was a reality star, he seems like an ogre… you get the idea. I actually found he was really quite great in the match. He was fluid and bumped well. And boy can he throw a sweet drop kick.

When did he become the good one?
When did he become the good one?

The two heel teams are still in the ring with the Wolves on the outside. They decide to put their partners on their shoulders and have a chicken fight for the titles. Odd strategy, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen it before. Of course the Wolves kill them both with missile drop kicks. The action continues nicely, Jessie takes a sick bump off the top after getting Misted by the Great Senada, and after many more planchas, dropkicks and craziness the Wolves climb up to retain their titles. A great little match to start off the show. The Wolves are amazing and everyone kept up with them.

We go to the announcers in their seedy hotel room and Taz is picking Angle to win the title tonight. Bold words from the man who’s been wearing the same clothes for the last four weeks. I have a feeling that the only thing the announcers are allowed to talk about between matches is the Angle/Lashley match.

We’re back from break and Austin Aries is in the ring. He’s mad that the BDC stole his briefcase. He’s been out for two weeks after they beat him down and he wants his property back! I think he should just buy a new case, what are they like a hundred bucks? That’s what Sandow did and he looked marvelous with his leather satchel.

It now holds my dignity.
It now holds my dignity.

Aries calls out Joe and Low-Ki and they immediately make their way to the ring. Low-Ki has the X-Division title strapped around his chest like a bandolier, and the GI Joe fan inside me wishes it was loaded with grenades. The GI Joe fan on me wishes my screen was now filled with red and blue lasers, but I digress. Low Ki does the whole “possession is nine tenths of the law” but as though we were still in 1987 and Aries matches his corniness with some of his own. These two should probably just be fighting and maybe EC3 can just speak for both of them. They bicker over who owns the case. WHO CARES about the physical case !(screams my inner Michael Cole) Since Low Ki stole the case AND Aries’ X-Division title Austin will put his case on the line, with his world title shot, against the X-Division title. (Wait. I have an inner Michael Cole???) Low-Ki doesn’t take the offer… Why? Wouldn’t he want the shot? (seriously if Cole is in my head I will blow my brains out all over the kitchen table for my family to see) Low-Ki says Aries doesn’t deserve a title shot, but he can face Joe instead.

Match #2 Austin Aries Vs. Samoa Joe

I really hope they’re not going to be punching each other in the face. Sherri would be very upset. Joe feels way more motivated in there with Austin Aries than we’ve seen him in recent weeks. This feels like a slower version of a Joe/Aries greatest hits album. It’s smooth and fun and if it’s Joe’s last match in TNA he couldn’t really have asked for a better opponent to go out with. Finally as little Gerald Butler is about to finish off Joe, Low Ki runs in for the DQ and the beat down is on!!! From the Beat Down Clan!!!! It’s the beat down near BIG BEN!!! They really need to work on a better name. I will say that I do like them starting what seems to be a new blood feud between Aries and Low-Ki after one of their major feuds ended last week. It’s called story progression, you move some character in, some out and no one gets bored. Before I can talk about how they leave Aries laying, Austin takes advantage of Joe miscommunication and takes both of them out and regains his briefcase. Low Ki is down! Aries escapes down the aisle, and we see someone else in the background, someone bald, someone who also has a case…

STONE COLD! STONE COLD!
STONE COLD! STONE COLD!

Match #3 Low-Ki Vs. Rockstar Spud

Spud is cashing in! ( I hate that they’re using that terminology) He nails Low-Ki with his finish and is the new X-Division champion. He makes sure to get as far away from the BDC before he lets the ref raise his hand. As much as I love Low-Ki and his bald spot, this is a cool move. Spud came out of last week looking golden even in defeat and I like the way they’re rewarding his solid work.

Josh and Taz hype the upcoming knockouts triple threat match between Taryn, Kong and Gail Kim, but then quickly remind us we’re getting Angle vs. Lashley later. They show Lashley warming up in his Michelin man vest and checkered hat. Fuck that hat.

Out of nowhere Magnus is beating the shit out of Bram backstage. He’s beating him worse than Nailz beat Virgil (IN THE VERY SAME BUILDING). Again this built nicely from last week where Bram humiliated Magnus by making him kiss his boot in front of the mother of his child. Last week’s segment was phenomenal and this one is just as good. I like the idea of camera men having to run to find out where the action is. I can totally live with the camera shaking as it helps tell the story that there’s chaos all around. Contrast that with the WWE where the camera shakes every time someone throws a punch and you can see why my doctors have forbidden me from watching raw.

Suck a bag of dicks.
Suck a bag of dicks.

The brawl spills into the arena where Magnus destroys Bram with a chair. I love this. This is how you handle your main eventers when you don’t want them in the title picture. Give them something interesting and meaningful to do. Magnus should win this feud and come out stronger. Instead of say, being demoted to the intercontinental title for no reason. The officials step in to stop Magnus from murdering Bram and Mickie James is out. But who’s corner is Mrs. Perfect in? Magnus’ corner. She’s the mother of his child. Does anyone else find it strange that they keep calling her that? Instead of say girlfriend. It makes it seem like Magnus is already paying child support, and Mickie is back doing strange porn.

Mickie kicks Bram in the nuts and pounds away on him. This is a comeuppance. Bram crawls down the aisle but Magnus gets him at the entrance and absolutely plants him with a sick power bomb on the ramp, which I believe, judging by the sound, is just wood. The power bomb was so quick and stiff that my wife is now angry with me and I forced her to stop watching Gilmore Girls to see it. Bram is dead. I love the way the announcers kind of took a back seat here and let Magnus and Bram (and Mickie) tell the story. Instead of being told what we’re seeing, we get to experience this brutality with our own senses. Great segment.

Did you know there’s a title match later tonight? Edie Edwards can’t wait. Al Snow thinks Kurt is fighting for his life.EC3 just wants the winner. (YES!) Tenay and his leather face says Kurt is going to win. MVP says they’re fighting for his title. It’ll be a good match though. Didn’t he lose two weeks ago?

Match #4 Taryn Terrell Vs. Awesome Kong Vs. Gail Kim

DON’T HURT MY TARYN! Great storytelling at the start as Taryn and Gail keep trying to just get rid of Kong, but she’s just too strong. Kong kills them, they fight back, repeat. Solid stuff that makes total sense in the context of who’s in there. Even when Gail Kim escapes or counters something she immediately gets nailed with something else which sends her to the mat. Everyone’s offence look s believable and there aren’t any of your typical “Diva” spots that expose the business and make us take a bathroom break. These girls are fighting, and it’s great.

I'M BETTER THAN KANYON!!!
I’M BETTER THAN KANYON!!!

Kim is tossed and we’re back to the match form two weeks ago, it’s Taryn Vs. Kong. Taryn immediately attacks like the spunky baby face she is and the announcers re-iterate how important it is for Taryn to beat Kong herself. That’s good commentating. Enhancing the product, not trying to take it over. She stuns Kong and hits a top rope cross body for two. She goes for the Taryn Cutter but gets shaken off by Kong. My heart starts to sink a little as Kong takes off her gloves, clearly sending the message that she’s going to crush her like Earthquake crushed Blake Beverley. She misses the splash and Taryn finally hits the cutter after weeks of trying and gets 2… Taryn then loses it and ties Kong in the ropes and pounds away until she falls out of the ring. Gail Kim shoves her out of the way and leaps on Kong on the outside. With Kong down she climbs back up to the top where Terrell is waiting for her. Kim hits a sweet top rope power bomb for two. She sets Taryn up for the finish only to get rolled up and pinned by the champ. Terrell is happy she won, but you can tell by the look on her face she’s disappointed she didn’t beat Kong. Another really good match here as these three are definitely on par with what NXT is putting out in terms of women’s wrestling. Or maybe I’m just in love with Taryn Terrell. Who knows? WHO CARES!!!! (get out of my head Michael!!!)

Cleanse me Taryn!
Cleanse me Taryn!

Bray Wyatt is coming after Matt Hardy. Please stop.

What is this? Leopards. Zebras! Great cities replace organic labyrinths. Natural Selection! Survival of The Fittest! Oh, it’s just another promo for the main event. I feel like this is something they should have shown on Destination America earlier in the day to get people to watch instead of having it here a few minutes before the actual match. I’m going to keep watching ok??? also I would wager a ton of money that no one in this company could adequately explain to me any of Darwin’s principals beyond spouting few key sentences.

THIS is my legacy?
THIS is my legacy?

Here’s Kurt to tell us how he’s feeling. Unless the answer is old, I’m not going to believe him. It’s been a year since his last title shot and if he can win tonight he’ll prove he can still hang. Sure, why not?

Match #5 James Storm Vs. Matt Hardy

This is a hardcore match. James Storm: Bray Wyatt character with Daniel Bryan’s color scheme. I can’ believe (that!) they haven’t put him in a flak jacket yet… Matt Hardy’s knees are bending on his entrance and this may be the first time I’ve seen him walk like a human for the better part of a decade. Good hardcore match which sees the Revolution interfering at every step. As much as I loathe James Storm’s Bray Wyatt rip-off he’s still great in the ring and always a treat to watch. Lots of cool spots here including Storm getting tossed into a pile of tacks. Hardy hits a twist of fate and the ref decides to run around the whole ring before counting the two. With Storm down, Hardy goes to the outside and destroys every member of the Revolution, he particularly shows no care for Koya as he blasts him with a non-foldable chair. It’s all moot though as Matt gets misted by Senada and takes two last calls for the pin. Really decent hardcore match. The Revolution set up Hardy for the murder and hit him with the cowbell before offering him a spot in their clan. Are they also a clan? There’s a lot of overtones here!!!

We get a little more hype for the main event. Geez, it’s like they’re worried it’s going to get cancelled or left off the card like Tatanka and The Berzerker.

Match # 6 Bobby Lashley Vs. Kurt Angle

TNA world title on the line. Lashley makes his way down and kisses his hoodie as he takes it off. Ok… we get the big match introductions and no one is running away from the other like Kamala running from The Undertaker. (Got em!)

The Ugandan Trauma.
The Ugandan Trauma.

Say what you will, but this match does have a big fight feel. Lashley dominated early, completely out wrestling Kurt. There are tons of takedowns and it looks a bit like an actual wrestling match. Out of nowhere Kurt hits a belly to belly followed by the rolling Germans which Lashley sells about a million times better than Eric Young. I love that when Lashley puts Angle in a rest hold it actually looks like it fucking kills. I feel I’ve been hard on Kurt since I started writing these things, but while he’s older and slower, he’s still fantastic at sucking you into the match. He strings moves together intelligently and is still the king of the dramatic two count. Both guys are looking good here. Lashley nails all the right power moves and Kurt escapes by the skin of his teeth. Lashley takes about hundred Germans but comes back with a wicked spear. Which gets TWO! Lashley is a bit shocked by still turns an Angle cross body into an ankle lock of his own. Which Angle counters into his ankle lock. Grapevine! After fighting for a while Lashley does the ultra slow defeated tap out and Kurt is your new champ. Awesome match. I’m sure my writing didn’t suggest how into it I was, but it showed me that a: Kurt is still great, and b: Lashley is quite the worker as well. I’ve been ragging on Impact that the format doesn’t really allow for PPV quality matches, but we were treated to one here. They went about fifteen minutes and the action was wonderful. Probably the best match of the year for TNA. Great stuff.

Kurt and Lashley hug it out to end the show. Next week Jeff Harvey returns!!! WHO CARES (BANG!!!!Aaron? Aaron???)

Best Match: Kurt Angle Vs. Bobby Lashley
Worst Match:  Low-Ki Vs. Rockstar Spud
Best Promo/Skit:  Magnus screaming at Bram
Worst Promo/Skit: Any time James Storm speaks.
MVP:   Angle/Lashley

What Worked Really Well

-All the feuds are solidly built through weeks of consistent storytelling. The payoffs are almost always good.

-All the matches delivered this week.

-Angle Vs. Lashley had no right being as good as it was. Seek it out, it’s worth it.

-The knockouts don’t need to be judged on the “it’s good for women” scale. They’re just good.

What Sort Of Works

-I love that Spud won the title. I thought the pop from the English crowd was a little anemic.

-Josh and Taz say stupid shit sometimes, and are a little too insistent in getting the WWE buzz words in (separation for example) but they’re pretty good and don’t detract from the action.

What Didn’t Work

-No EC3.

-Bray Wyatt 2.0.

So Why Should I Watch This Instead Of Raw?

What can I say. If you watched this show in a vacuum versus the latest RAW, you wouldn’t be able to comprehend why RAW is more popular. All the matches were good to great, they treat their titles with respect and they seem to enjoy the fact that they are a wrestling company. The last two weeks have been excellent and I truly hope that any rumors of TNA’s demise are exaggerated. This is a good show. A show where everyone busts their asses and the writers don’t have contempt for the audience. Get into Impact now before it’s too late. Also I hate Michael Cole.

THIS is my legacy?
As do I.

 

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Author: Aaron George

Aaron is a classically trained Shakespearean actor by day who fulfils his culture quotient by watching wrestling by night. He has two sons a great wife and once explored the sewers in his hometown.